Veal Stew with Endive and Carrot

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 1/2 pounds veal stew meat in 1-inch chunks
4 heads Belgian endive
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, optional
2 tablespoons fresh or sour cream, optional
Chopped parsley for garnish.

1. Put butter or oil in a large skillet and turn heat to high. When butter melts or oil is hot, add meat in one layer. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until veal is browned on one side. Stir once, then move veal to one side of pan. With heat on high, add whole endives in one layer and scatter carrots over all. Cook until endives brown on one side, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn and cook another minute, then sprinkle all with salt and pepper.

2. Add stock, stir, let it cook for a minute, then turn heat to very low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once, until tender.  If necessary, turn heat to high until sauce thickens a bit. 

* 3. Taste and adjust seasoning, remove to a platter, pour sauce on top and garnish with parsley. If making mustard-cream sauce, remove meat and vegetables to platter, blend mustard and cream and stir into sauce in pan until smooth. Pour over meat and vegetables. Garnish and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

  Adapted from a recipe in Mark Bittman's Minimalist column for the New York Times, Oct. 31, '01.

A note from Bittman's comments about the preparation:

*The mixture simmers gently until the endives, carrots and meat are tender, a half- hour or so. The dish can be done up until this point an hour, a day, or even a couple of days before you eat it; it only improves with time. (Cover and refrigerate until about 15 minutes before you're ready to eat, then reheat gently.) At the last minute, if you chose to do so, the meat and vegetables are scooped out and the remaining sauce is blended with a mix of mustard and cream.

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